Who Won the Saucon Valley School Board Primary?

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Saucon Valley School Board Primary Candidates

The Saucon Valley School Board candidates pictured above are, top row from left: Cedric Dettmar, Raquel Barbera, Vivian Demko, Shamim Pakzad and John Conte; bottom row from left: Sandra Miller and Tracy Magnotta. All advanced to Nov. 2.

The votes are in and counted, and according to unofficial Northampton County primary election results, the race for Saucon Valley School Board won’t be any narrower this fall.

The race for four seats on the board featured seven candidates who ran in Tuesday’s primary election. Four candidates were cross-filed and appeared on both the Democratic and Republican ballots, two appeared on only the Democratic ballot and one appeared on only the Republican ballot. Since all seven managed to secure a top-four finish on at least one of the two ballots, all seven will advance to the general election Nov. 2.

The four tope vote-getters on the Democratic ballot were (*denotes an incumbent):

  • Vivian Demko (Cross-filed) – 1,098
  • Tracy Magnotta* (Cross-filed) – 956
  • Sandra Miller* (Democrat) – 879
  • Raquel Barbera (Democrat) – 802

Incumbents Shamim Pakzad (cross-filed) and Cedric Dettmar (cross-filed) received 790 and 606 votes, respectively, on the Democratic ticket.

On the Republican ballot, the four top vote-getters were (*denotes an incumbent):

  • Tracy Magnotta* (Cross-filed) – 954
  • Shamim Pakzad* (Cross-filed) – 924
  • John Conte (Republican) – 923
  • Cedric Dettmar* (Cross-filed) – 707

Vivian Demko (cross-filed) came in fifth place on the Republican ticket, with 601 votes.

A difference between the parties which the primary exposed concerns how people voted.

Among Republicans, who cast 4,132 votes in the Saucon Valley School Board race, the majority (3,668 votes or approximately 88.8 percent) were cast in-person. Just 464 Republican votes (approximately 11.2 percent) were cast by mail, according to the county’s unofficial results.

However, among Democrats, who cast 5,147 votes, the percentage of voters who cast ballots in-person and voters who cast ballots by mail were nearly equal. According to the county’s unofficial results, 2,756 Democratic votes were cast in person (approximately 53.5 percent) and 2,391 votes (approximately 46.5 percent) were cast by mail.

These differences may reflect the country’s current political division over voting; a division in which Republicans are more likely to believe mail-in ballots are susceptible to tampering, in part because of false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. Democrats, on the other hand, are more likely to embrace no-excuse voting by mail, which only became possible in Pennsylvania following the passage of a new law in 2019. Millions of Pennsylvanians voted by mail in 2020, in part because of the coronavirus pandemic and concerns about the virus’s spread in public settings.

The Saucon Valley School District serves residents of Hellertown borough and Lower Saucon Township, and is home to approximately 17,000 people. As of the 2020-2021 school year, approximately 2,400 students were enrolled in the district.

The results from Tuesday’s primary election won’t be official until they are certified by the county; a process that typically takes a couple of weeks.

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